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123 of 143 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Insightful Look at Media Bias
Note: Normally, when discussing a book with political implications, I attempt to present an opinion tailored to the sensitivities of members of each major political party concerning the work in question. In the case of Left Turn, I have forgone this formula due to the objective presentation of the book and the value it serves despite political affiliations...
Published on July 19, 2011 by T. R. Kanavy

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31 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Support yes - 'Proof'?
I have read the book. Such a work is going to be polarizing. Those on the right will put it on a pedastal. The left will cringe like vampires in an Italian restaurant. The right will say the numbers are fine to support their charge of media bias. The left will attack it from every angle they possibly can in a desperate attempt to deny any media bias.

The...
Published on September 16, 2011 by The Riddler


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123 of 143 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Insightful Look at Media Bias, July 19, 2011
Note: Normally, when discussing a book with political implications, I attempt to present an opinion tailored to the sensitivities of members of each major political party concerning the work in question. In the case of Left Turn, I have forgone this formula due to the objective presentation of the book and the value it serves despite political affiliations.

The Author:

While reading this book, I experienced one constant mantra of thought: Dr. Groseclose is an unequivocal expert on the subject of media bias and relating politics. This book is not the construct of a sharp-tongued political analyst, but rather the work of an experienced and astute-observer utilizing a strong skillset in scientific reasoning and advanced calculation. When reading the author's biography, you will discover that Groseclose is a generally conservative professor of political science at UCLA and a visiting professor at several Ivy League universities. Those of us, who have been to university, know that such creatures (non-liberal university academics) are about as common as unicorns, leprechauns and a no-strings-attached weekend at a vacation timeshare. This facet alone might be reason enough to read Left Turn, but fortunately I can provide a few more motives.

Left Turn:

Left Turn, while written by an openly conservative author is riddled with examples, statistics, empirical data and careful-research in a valid effort to underscore the science of political science. Tim Groseclose, while an admitted conservative, maintains a sufficient measure of integrity throughout by frequently providing the arguments and opinion of liberals and democrats through the voice of his public detractors, liberal acquaintances and colleagues at UCLA- often granting concession and thoughtful rebuttal in such instances. This writing style struck a particular chord with me, as I myself value fairness, objectivity and a presentation of fact without malice. After all, many of our family, friends and loved ones possess varying opinions on inflammatory political matters and for a variety of different reasons. Where most political books today are dipped into a vat of satirical polish that seeks to demean and disparage the intended maligned party; Left Turn focuses on science and reason in an effort to enlighten the public to distortion through media bias. This is also the concept that makes the book a bit unsettling, perhaps more so for those on the left of the political aisle. Yet, I still encourage those on the left to read the book for reason best stated by Winston Churchill "The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is".

Conclusion:

In the end, Left Turn is an easy to read, expertly presented tool for removing a shroud of often unjust media influence that taints the information with which we are inundated. Despite the political party you claim, reading Left Turn will serve you a great measure of powerful insight- that is, essentially, the ability to thoughtfully recognize and interpret bias in the media. Ultimately, understanding media bias is essential to gaining transparency in politics, restoring integrity to journalism and promoting the true will of the governed- a sentiment that we all as Americans should desire.
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58 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A modern Voyage of Discovery, July 19, 2011
By 
Edmund Jimenez (Tempe, AZ United States) - See all my reviews
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*Left Turn*, by Tim Groseclose, is a kind of alien artifact because there is not a single hint of rancor, hostility or disrespect toward those with whom he, assuredly, politically disagrees. Instead, this book is a refreshment for the intellect.

At the outset, Dr. Groseclose declares his political disposition: he is a conservative. However, his private views are rendered irrelevant by his research effort of many years. Most of his colleagues are left of center, yet they all share a devotion to scientific accuracy and good faith.

As a political scientist and economist, Dr. Groseclose's academic accomplishments are impressive. His research is data-driven, brought to life by mathematics, and has been critically- and well-received by his peers.

His book outlines his research. Specifically, Dr. Groseclose explains how he arrives at a numeric value identifying an individual's or organization's position in the political spectrum. Remarkably, 1. the author is able to establish this identification over a range of time; not merely a point in time; and, 2. his research yields an absolute value of political identification, and not a relative one (e.g, Fox News relative to MSNBC). The implications and effects of these discoveries are then addressed by the author.

The organizations given scrutiny, unsurprisingly, comprise news media sources--both print and electronic. It will no doubt be irritating to liberals that Dr. Groseclose's research shows most media to be slanted to the left. And, of course, some conservatives will find validation in the author's conclusion, while judging it as ridiculously obvious. Such reactions would miss the point, I think, because what Dr. Groseclose has provided us, is a precise and objective tool for measuring the political bias of our news sources--whether they be left or right.

The reader becomes an observer of Dr. Groseclose's reflections, inquiries, doubts and research breakthroughs--virtually without recourse to mathematics, all by way of standard English. Along the way too, there are some startling, empirically based conclusions by the author which might nonplus conservatives and liberals.

In addition to identifying sources, the Notes section of the book is valuable because many entries amplify points in the main narrative, again using plain English. If the reader is interested in more detail, he can turn to the author's web site for companion papers which should be available by the time you read this.

Although the author writes extremely well, two points of fault deserve mention. I hope that I'm not being unduly harsh here:

1. Dr. Groseclose's use of indefinite pronouns (he, she) is inconsistent and distracting. His usage is an obvious political construct; it is clear that he, or his editor, succumbed to the pressure of feminist triviality. If memory serves, this particular form of anti-grammar originally struck the academic world hard during the mid-80s. It's a form of grammatical schizophrenia--underlain by the best of intentions, of course.

2. The final ten percent or so of the book is in need of an editor's touch. The writing in this part is a little clumsy and somewhat confusing. Nevertheless, with slight perseverance, the reader will be amply rewarded.

Please bear in mind that I read an advance copy. The released copy will no doubt be enjoyably refined.

During my reading, many questions occurred to me, which only increased my admiration for Dr. Groseclose's wonderful contribution to our understanding of political bias. I marvel at his analyses, insights and civility; his work may well become a new standard. I think that most readers of *Left Turn* will be similarly affected, and have a great deal of intellectual fun too.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thorough and Rigorous Account of the Left Wing Bias in the American Media, July 10, 2012
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This review is from: Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind (Paperback)
In a different universe, a book like this one would never have been written. Not because it's in any way false (it's as far from it as it is intellectually possible), nor because its subject matter is uninteresting or boring. No, this kind of book ought not to have been written because in a perfectly honest world there would be absolutely no need for it. The fact that most of the media outlets lean heavily to the left should be so patently obvious to any intellectually honest person that a book like this one would be stacked in the bookstore between the book proving that the sky is blue and the one demonstrating the wetness of water. Unfortunately, we don't live in a perfectly honest world, so there is a great need for a book like the "Left Turn" - a honest and rigorous analysis of the extent and the nature of the left wing bias in the media.

There have been many other books dealing with this topics written over the past couple of decades, and each one of them had an interesting and insightful take on the topic of left wing media bias. However, what distinguishes the "Left Turn" is its scope, accuracy, and the academically accepted high standards of research. The author, Tim Groseclose, is a distinguished social scientist, and all the work upon which this book is based has previously appeared in high-level peer reviewed journals. This doesn't necessarily mean that his work is free of error of any kind, but it significantly raises the bar for anyone who wants to have it dismissed out of hand.

One of the main lessons that anyone can take from reading this book is that political bias is a very real thing, it is possible to operationally define it, it is possible to measure it, and most importantly it is possible to draw meaningful conclusion about individuals and institutions that embody different degrees of bias. Bias, in itself, doesn't mean that the individuals and media outlets are outright lying in order to present the stories and information in a way that favors their own "side." That sort of bias does exist, but it's relatively small compared to the main sources of bias in the media - selectively presenting facts and stories in such a way that the fully picture gets irrevocably distorted. Groseclose shows examples of how that sort of bias operates, and gives an estimate of the extent to which the twenty most significant news sources in the US are biased. (Newsflash - except Fox News and Washington Times all of them lean to the left.)

One of my favorite chapters in the book is the one in which Groseclose decides to try to visit a US city that leans to the right by an approximately same amount as the typical newsroom leans to the left. This is an almost impossible task, and he only approximately succeeds by visiting a small town in Utah, dominated by Mormons and settled by the southerners in the 19th century. Even so, the place is generally congenial to all of its residents (even the head of the local Democratic party) and a far cry from the shrill extreme left rhetoric and attitude that is found in most news sources these days.

The final sections of the book discuss some really remarkable claims: were it not for the extreme media bias the US population as a whole would be tilting even more to the right. In other words, if all of the media outlets overnight decided to be perfectly "moderate" on all of their news coverage, they would still be substantially to the left of what most public would find to be the "natural" political leanings. This is indeed a very strong claim, and even though Groseclose provides some convincing arguments and evidence to substantiate it, it's a topic that has really not been thoroughly researched.

Overall this is a very readable and well-presented case for the existence and the extent of the left wing bias in the media. All conservatives who want to be well informed on this topic ought to read it, as well as all the fair-minded independents and liberals. This is by far the best book on this topic that I've come across, and one of my favorite overall popular social science books on any topic.
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why Media Bias Matters, July 24, 2011
By 
Edward G. Keating (Los Angeles, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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Building on a seminal Quarterly Journal of Economics article, in this book, Professor Tim Groseclose outlines considerable evidence for left-wing bias in the US media and, perhaps more importantly, argues that the bias tilts the US political system to the left.

When, in the middle of the last decade, Professor Groseclose and his co-author provided innovative quantification of leftward bias in the US media, the thesis was controversial, eliciting extensive (and often mean-spirited) reaction toward the authors. Since then, however, Groseclose's argument has become more widely accepted. Indeed, Hillary Clinton's campaign advisors noted (probably validly) extensive media bias toward now-President Obama in the 2008 primary campaign.

Indeed, "now-President" is the key phrase in the last sentence. Not only is the media biased, but that bias matters, i.e., has affected political outcomes in this country. The importance of media bias is the central thesis of "Left Turn" and the methodological enhancement relative to Professor Groseclose's earlier research. He introduces what he terms "the media lambda," a fancy way of suggesting the leftward pull or power of a biased media.

"Left Turn" is not an excessively equation-laden exegesis (though it has very extensive end notes and references). Instead, it is built on anecdotes of how the media matters, i.e., changes the nature of the policy debate and, ultimately, government policies. The heroine of the book is Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter Katherine Kersten, a rare conservative media member who broke the story of the "John Doe" litigation in which passengers on an airplane were sued by Muslim imams for reporting concerns about behavior the passengers perceived to be unusual and possibly threatening. As a result of Ms. Kersten's reporting, legislation was passed that disallowed litigation against witnesses who report suspicions to authorities.

While the book draws attention to Ms. Kersten's work, its broader point is that there are many more left-of-center journalists whose work is pulling political debate and governmental policymaking to the left than the few right-of-center journalists like Ms. Kersten.

Professor Groseclose's empirical estimates of media impact are sizable, perhaps implausibly so. Absent a biased media (and subject to lots of methodological assumptions), he predicts John McCain would have won the 2008 presidential by 56-42 percent. Except, one suspects, now-President Obama would not have been his party's nominee in such a world (at least according to then-candidate Clinton's embittered advisors).

The importance of this book notwithstanding, it's a very entertaining and quick read. For example, Professor Groseclose visited Washington County in southwest Utah. He identified Washington County as one of the country's most conservative counties of a reasonable size. He was looking for an "inverse newsroom," i.e., a county where conservatives are predominant the way liberals are in a modern newsroom. Though, in fact, he fails in that Washington County has far more Democratic voters proportionally than a typical newsroom has Republican voters. Professor Groseclose visited local denizens including Mike Empey who serves as the Democratic congressional representative Jim Matheson's local outreach coordinator. Mr. Empey's somewhat unenviable job is to try to convince Washington County residents that Representative Matheson is not as liberal as the national Democratic Party. It is interesting reading, both intrinsically with respect to what Mr. Empey deals with and when one reflects that he's living a politically inverted life to Ms. Kersten's. But each is ultimately a salmon, swimming valiantly against a current running strongly against them.

On some level, Professor Groseclose's thesis is unremarkable. People often speak of wanting to "make a difference" when they choose their lines of work. Professor Groseclose's argument is that liberal journalists make a difference, a very big difference. It'd be an unintended irony of "Left Turn" if the book ended up encouraging yet-more liberals to enter journalism (or, perhaps more likely, cause fewer liberals to quit journalism than would otherwise be the case) because this distinguished scholar has found their work has made a genuine difference in US political outcomes.
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31 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Support yes - 'Proof'?, September 16, 2011
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I have read the book. Such a work is going to be polarizing. Those on the right will put it on a pedastal. The left will cringe like vampires in an Italian restaurant. The right will say the numbers are fine to support their charge of media bias. The left will attack it from every angle they possibly can in a desperate attempt to deny any media bias.

The book's narrative style is relatively engaging. It is peppered with quotes and anecdotes, and has a sort of tongue-in-cheek rolling style that makes it a decent read for what is ostensibly a rather dry topic (math). People on the right who read it will be nodding and chuckling as they go. Those on the left may not agree with his positions, but may at least be entertained by his style.

The problem I had as I was reading was in the way the entire argument was framed. Quite often in the book you the author will step in and say, "It is useful to illustrate the point with a thought experiment..." Or at other times, "If we assume that..." Too many of the points he brings up are supported by what can only be called inferences and assumptions rather than hard statistics. I am a statistician, and I spend the entire book waiting and waiting for hard numbers that never materialized. I'm certain the author has his p-values and correlation coefficients somewhere - but they aren't in this book.

So the book - IMO - fails at 'proving' the case for media bias because it ultimately does not use hard statistics. It uses 'soft' statistics which are based on inferences. Now, those inferences may indeed be based on numerics (PQs and SQs) but when the numbers that CREATE the numbers are inferred then it cannot really be said to be conclusive evidence. Evidence of a sort? Sure. But proof? Not so much.

Do I think that the media is actually biased? Oh - of that I have no doubts at all. Is the media biased to the left? Again - I think that any rational person who conducts even a casual observation of the media marketplace can only come to the conclusion that the news media is rife with left-wing political slant. The chapters that were most interesting (and conclusive) to me were the ones that discussed "Words that aren't cheap" (showing that journalists overwhelmingly donate to leftist politics) and the discussion of 1st and 2nd order bias in the newsroom (what environment does it create to have a 85+% liberally slanted newsroom population?).

As to whether the biased news media effects the voting habits of the population at large? I think he raises some interesting points, and to a certain extent (using OTHER research than his own) he makes at least a preliminary case that the media does in fact influence voting habits. But I do not think his SQs definitively measure actual media slant. Nor do I think that his measures of voter/media/politician central tendency is necessarily accurate.

The "PQ" of congress is a measure of voting record. It INFERS conservativeness or liberalness. I think the PQ is a good finger-in-the-wind (so to speak) but it is not what a statistican would call "Interval" or "Ratio" data which can be used to generate a meaningful mean or median. Likewise, the "SQ" slant quotient are like the PQ numbers - which is to say they are ordinal measurements at best and suitable for simple analysis but not hard stats.

What do I mean by that? In a social survey, a person may be asked a question such as "How much do you like Fruity Pebbles cereal?" and be presented with choices such as "Like strongly, Like somewhat, Neither like nor dislike, dislike somewhat, dislike strongly". To me, the PQ voting records of Congress seem more to suit this style. Voting for a bill doesn't automatically make you a liberal, conservative, Democrat, or Republican. It is a specific act (Yes/No) but its implication is general. Just like you can't statistically 'prove' how much someone likes Fruity Pebbles from a Lichert scale, you can't 'prove' how liberal or conservative someone is from the PQ. It is an indicator, not a scientific measurement.

The same applies to the SQ numbers. They seem far too rooted in generic attitudinal measures to suitably fill a statistical role that is based on central tendencies. Even as he was making his case in his final chapters, the language the author used was filled with conditionals that (to me) were tacit admissions that the results were not so much 'statistical proof' as they were 'estimators'. Particularly when he was stating "Hey - I think the SQ is over .5 and under .8, but what the heck let's just call it .7!" That isn't hard statistics. That isn't conclusive proof. That is a finger in the wind.

Is he right? I think in a broad sense he probably is correct. I think the media is liberally slanted, and that it does pull voter opinion along with it to a degree. Is it as much as he states? I have no idea, but this book does not satisfy my that he has definitively answered 'how much'. He's probably in the ballpark, but that's all he is. He hit it in the ballpark (a general area) but we can't say he put his arrow in the gold (a specific target).
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that only an intelligent reader could love, September 26, 2011
By 
Marvin D. Pipher (Houston, Texas USA) - See all my reviews
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It has long been an open secret that America's mainstream media is liberally biased, but up until now there has been little definitive proof of that bias or of the extent to which that bias influences America's voting public. Like everything Liberal, these questions have always been relegated in the shadows where they could be disputed with vague double-speak or put to rest by accusations of "racism." But this book changes all that, at least for any intelligent reader with an open mind.

What this book's author does is approach the subject scientifically based on extensive research and data, and from both a mathematical and statistical point of view. At the same time, he makes every effort not to corrupt the input data upon which his study is based. To ensure fairness, in fact, he even takes as his starting point the eleven issues which the most liberal organization in the United States --- Americans for Democratic Action --- has identified as those most important to the liberal cause.

To oversimplify for purposes of discussion, and taking the book only in part: Mr. Groseclose begins by taking the eleven critical liberal issues and, using the voting records of United States Senators and Representatives, determines to what extent each of those politicians has supported them. The most liberal politician would, of course, be found to support all of those issues all of the time; while the most conservative politician would be found to never support any of them. Everyone else, of course, would fall somewhere in between. The author then uses these voting records to assign what he terms a "Political Quotient" (PQ) to each politician.

Again oversimplifying: The author then performs various statistical analyses for the major media outlets --- "The Wall Street Journal," "The New York Times," "The Washington Post," "The Washington Times," CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, National Public Radio, Fox News, etc. --- based on their news stories related to these eleven liberal issues to determine whether or not those reports tended to favor or oppose those issues. All but two of those analyzed were found to have a liberal bias.

In other interesting findings, the author also effectively demonstrates that: 1) the vast majority of the nation's reporters support liberal politicians and causes, 2) the nation's average mainstream reporter is more liberal than America's average politician, i.e. has a higher Political Quotient (very scary); 3) biased news stories DO influence the way Americans, particularly "centrists," vote; 4) U.S. newspapers are 20-40 percent more likely to report a negative headline if the administration is Republican; 5) if you line up all of the politicians in the U.S. House of Representatives from highest PQ to lowest PQ, the person in the middle, the generally moderately liberal median, would be found to set the nation's policy; 6) in the main, American voters do not base their votes on the race of the candidates; 7) if you read a newspaper article or watch a television news clip, then almost certainly it will have been written or produced by a liberal; 8) journalists almost never find themselves in a situation where they are outnumbered by conservatives, i.e. they only talk to each other; and, finally, 9) in a typical national election, the vote generally splits about 50/50 for Republicans/Democrats; therefore, the mainstream media's views are generally far left of the average voter.

This is not the easiest book I've ever read, since it does rely to some extent on a familiarity with mathematics and statistics; and I suspect that I'd have to read it at least once more to fully understand it. But there is no doubt in my mind that the author has more than made his case. And, as he says: No credible source has ever made any legitimate attempt to discredit his findings. Unfortunately, I suspect that not all will be convinced, for, paraphrasing an old saying: "It is extremely difficult for someone to believe something which conflicts with his (or her) ideology." Nevertheless, if you have an open mind and are up to the challenge, I suggest you go for it.
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23 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars M&M's* for the mind.....*math and media, July 19, 2011
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"Hey, baby, what's your PQ?"

I don't know if that will be a pick up line in the future, but it will undoubtedly find it's way into our lexicon shortly.

Like it or not, but we need a framework to operate in. As long as I understand where someone is coming from (politically) I can appreciate their counterpoints to my points. Likewise in media, I know instinctively that certain news outlets, politicians, and pundits lean left or right...and I cherry pick where I get my information. Like most people, I consider myself well informed on most topics because I have opted for more than one news source...the not so obvious choices (from a conservative standpoint) are CNN, The Daily News, any number of left leaning cross media outlets online. The difference is is that I try to look at how the left and right (where I can find them in left organizations) cover specific topics differently; what facts do they report to support their argument, what do they omit, are they reporting on the same stories, etc. I also learn a great deal from the comment section on any article...comments can teach a whole lot (comprehension, prevailing attitude, what sector has time on their hands, prejudice). The sad truth is that there are not enough conservative journalists covering the topics I'm interested in, which is why many people like me have turned to the alternative media. Take note dying MSM dinosaurs; balance increases bottom line.

Dr. Groseclose turns a statistical eye towards political media and brings the words 'political science' to full fruition. The two measurements he uses are PQ (political quotient) and SQ (slant quotient). Without getting into the science part, he shows that Jim DeMint has a low PQ, whereas Nancy Pelosi has a high PQ...PQ designating the degree of liberalism in any given person or group. When it comes to SQ, the degree of slant or spin in the news (balance of complete truth), he proves that the NYT is higher on the scale than The Washington Times (news only minus opinion pages)...SQ designating the job done to present the whole story in a balanced fashion. The higher the SQ, the more liberal elements outweigh the conservative elements; the lower the number, the more conservative elements outweigh liberal elements. PQ's and SQ's are centered around the middle of 50, or what any fair minded individual would view as centrist or moderate. Dr. Groseclose shows that the media's higher SQ influences those people with a 50 PQ to move to a higher PQ over time through the shear number of high SQ media impressions. And, the higher the PQ, the less likely it is that people will recognize a centrist PQ or SQ over time. The outer edges, which he regretfully calls extremes (I would have preferred the more statistically friendly word 'outliers'), reject a good portion of the media (liberals rejecting Fox, conservatives rejecting MSNBC) because they find the SQ unpalatable. Dr. Groseclose, as an admitted PQ 14 (Outer RINOlandia to me, ht to R. Kuby), does an exemplary job at keeping his personal politics out of data selection...demonstrating exactly how difficult it is to do a politically charged task correctly and completely. The media wants for a news reporter and organization that can earn similar trust. If they use this as a guidebook instead of a football, maybe we, the viewing public, will finally have an evening news again.

In all openness, I received a book from the author for review, but I liked it so much that I purchased a Kindle version so I could refer to it easily and often. While it is slightly difficult to get over oneself, a reader has to make the effort to suppress their own political nature (be it left, right, or center) during the hard-to-take parts of the book. Call it journalistic or media consumer medicine, but these are necessary doses that are sorely needed for the health of the patient. Much like 'Bias' by Bernard Goldberg a decade ago, 'Left Turn' brings the focus back on journalistic choices of topics and the selection of data to report on those topics. I'm certain many journalists attempt to do a balanced job, however, as evidenced by Katherine Kersten of the Minneapolis Star and Brit Hume (pgs. 90 - 96), many great stories are missed because news rooms aren't balanced. I can't help but think that media could increase profits if they had more conservative writers on staff - not to overshadow the liberal journalists, but to offer a clear perspective of the entire news landscape. Bear in mind, I do NOT want a government imposed 'Fairness Doctrine'. Businesses, including media, are best when they self-regulate when reacting to the response from their consumers.

My only minor complaint is stylistic...and moot. Number lines run left (0) to right (100+). I know Dr. Groseclose was building on previous data sets and studies, but I would have liked to see the style match the names...liberal-left (lower numbers)and conservative-right (higher numbers). I realize, however, his SQ would not have made sense with this lower-left upper-right designation if he altered his scale...at least from my viewpoint as a conservative. (i.e. NYT with a lower SQ than The Washington Times doesn't sound right to my ears.)

I predict an instant must-have for every political science and journalist major, as well as for those working in those respective fields. For those who loved 'Bias' a decade ago, 'Left Turn' is clearly the successor to that WAKE UP PEOPLE legacy. I like that we conservatives finally have some quantifiable data to prove our longstanding complaints about bias in the media. Does it go far enough? No, but I don't think we can advance the dialog any further, at least statistically, until we all accept this as a baseline.

And in case you're interested, I'm a 5. (Take the 40 question, multiple choice test on his website). Can a 14 respect a 5 as much as a 5 can respect a 14? That is a theoretical debate that I would welcome with the author, and one that will likely play out the closer we get to 2012.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Left Turn is a Right Read! (liberals might disagree)..., November 5, 2011
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For anyone thats intellecually honest, bias in media is a given. From a personal position, not necessarily the books, bias media took a hard 'left' turn in late 2007, and according to the law of physics, should eventually complete a huge circle by late 2012. But liberals will argue that the bias in media favors conservatives, while conservatives know that virtually all media, has a liberal agenda. So, along comes 'Left Turn' to position science behind this 'age old' argument, and in an entertaining, but hard data format, addresses the dynamic of bias media honestly and intellectually.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Makes a credible case for the existence of Liberal Media Bias despite some questionable assumptions., December 13, 2011
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As an individual who is definitely more liberal than conservative, I approached this book with great skepticism. I have always held the view that mainstream media is unbiased and that Fox News and its ilk were biased towards conservatives. After reading this book, the author has made the case that liberal bias exists.

The author makes his case in stages and for the most part with scientific rigor. Let me review.

1) Individuals in the "media" are overwhelmingly more liberal than conservative. This seems statistically quite convincing.

2) Despite factual accuracy, a reporter's political bias can distort an article just be selectively paying more attention to certain facts. This seems logical.

3) This selective reporting does occur and is quantifiable in specific instances. The author uses reporting on the Bush tax cuts as the example. There are 2 factual statements, one favoring conservatives "The Bush tax cuts makes taxes more progressive." and one favoring liberals "The Bush tax cuts disproportionately favors the wealthy." The vast majority of media outlets reported the liberal-favoring statement. While convincing in this particular case, how much you can generalize from this is uncertain.

4) Media bias can influence elections. The author supports this with data from studies and experiments and makes a convincing case that biased media influences elections, ironically primarily with Fox News.

5) And finally that without Liberal Media bias that the average voter would be much more conservative. This is the part that I find very unconvincing. His evidence is extrapolation from extrapolation.

It would be very interesting to study how much of an effect media bias has on voters, but while the author makes a convincing case that an effect probably exists, I remain unconvinced that media bias could drag the average PQ of the country from 31 to 50. I base this on a few observations. People naturally seek information that reinforces their own beliefs. Just as a liberal watching Fox News dismisses it as biased, so would a conservative watching a similar liberal media outlet. If the author is correct, then without liberal bias, the average republican would be to the right of Jim De Mint, and I don't find that convincing.

While I certainly cannot argue with his data, I don't know how accurate the assumptions are.

-If Congress and its politics are directly analogous to the voters, and Congress always votes according to political beliefs, then the PQ scale is probably accurate.
-If an entire news channel or newspaper can be accurately judged on its reporting of a single issue, then perhaps the Slant Quotient has some validity.
-If voters are so easily influenced that a conservative can be turned into a moderate merely by exposure to liberal media, then the conclusions of this book are valid.

I do find his last claim to be especially speculative and simplistic. Just how much can voters be budged by media bias? The most convincing data is Fox News giving Bush almost a percentage point in their market areas. How that relates to how conservative or liberal people really are will require a lot more study. There likely is a limit to how much a person can be budged from their "natural viewpoint".

Neither my liberal nor my conservative friends ever budge significantly in their beliefs, and neither Michael Moore nor Rush Limbaugh have been able to change their minds.

Overall, I do recommend that any moderate or liberal read this to challenge their own assumptions. It certainly worked for me. The writing style is very readable. The book is well-formatted and its content thought-provoking.
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2.0 out of 5 stars I agree with the general thesis of the author but I was swamped with all of the statistical jargon like slants and pq's and such, August 2, 2014
Sorry but this was too complicated for me to follow all of it. I agree with the general thesis of the author but I was swamped with all of the statistical jargon like slants and pq's and such. Reading it on my Kindle made it impossible to turn back and check the definitions of the various technical terms used by the author. The charts and graphs were impossible to read on the Kindle for the print was too small.
I am certain that this is a good, if not a great book, but it is not as readable as I would like.
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Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind
Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind by Tim Groseclose (Paperback - February 28, 2012)
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